Trustees take note – new platform for your trust Beneficial Ownership reporting

This October, the Acting Chief Master signed a directive introducing the new electronic platform for reporting Beneficial Ownership information at the Master. This new platform was introduced after the Master received an overwhelming number of concerns from Trustees about the reliability, privacy, security and functionality of the Google Forms document that was previously used for Beneficial Ownership submissions to the Master.

New electronic platform 
The result was the development and launch of a new electronic platform to address the concerns raised. However, the new electronic platform has also introduced additional requirements for Trustees and will now require Trustees to actively participate in the process of filing Beneficial Ownership information of a Trust at the Master.

Navigating the new reporting system
The authorised representative as well as the Trustees will now have to register on the electronic system to commence with the submission. A new Beneficial Ownership Excel template is regarded as the new template to be used for all submissions which must be accompanied by a Power of Attorney that has been duly signed by the Trustees of the Trust. This system has built-in automated checks to verify the completeness and correctness of the information submitted.

The filer will have to request access from all the Trustees by means of the electronic system in order to proceed with the submission. If the contact details of the Trustees are unavailable the request for access is denied by the system until such time as the contact details of all the Trustees have been uploaded.

The period granted to comply with the Beneficial Ownership reporting requirements was from 1 April 2023. This means that the Trustees and authorised representative must ensure that the correct information submitted on the new platform be done within a reasonable time after the Master launched the new electronic Beneficial Ownership Register. In the event that information may be requested from the relevant authorities, the relevant Trustees and authorised representatives will have 48 hours to rectify the query and upload the necessary information.

Consequences for non-compliance
The sanctions for non-compliance remain applicable despite the change in platforms. All trustees will still be liable to a fine of up to R 10 million or imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years or both. It is important to note that the Master will be verifying the information submitted using the new electronic platform as well as now allowing enforcement agencies on request access thereto. 

Trustees must take note of the new system requirements. In as much as the Master has undertaken to move data already submitted across, it will be vital to check and update the information on the new system to ensure that it is accurate and correct to avoid issues or sanctions being brought to bear.

Ensuring accuracy and compliance
Our Trust Office team specialises in assisting trusts and trustees with their Beneficial Ownership reporting and we are ready to also help with the reporting and submissions via the new electronic platform of the Master. Visit our Trust Office webpage and make contact with us should you need assistance.

Disclaimer: This article is the personal opinion/view of the author(s) and is not necessarily that of the firm. The content is provided for information only and should not be seen as an exact or complete exposition of the law. Accordingly, no reliance should be placed on the content for any reason whatsoever and no action should be taken on the basis thereof unless its application and accuracy has been confirmed by a legal advisor. The firm and author(s) cannot be held liable for any prejudice or damage resulting from action taken on the basis of this content without further written confirmation by the author(s). 

November 6, 2023
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